I doubt if this lawsuit succeeds, but it’s about time someone pushed back against the false advertising of companies like MillerCoors.
Blue Moon, a Belgian-style white beer and one of the fastest-growing brands in the U.S., is marketed as a craft beer.
In his suit, filed last month in California state court, Parent contends that MillerCoors has been misleading the public with the “crafty” beer it’s been brewing for 20 years — and getting a premium price for — because Blue Moon doesn’t fit the Brewers Association’s strict definition of a craft beer. He seeks an unspecified amount in damages for misleading advertising and unfair competition.
The name MillerCoors is not found on bottles of Blue Moon, nor is it anywhere on the Blue Moon Brewing Co. website. They claim on the bottle that their beer is “artfully crafted”. Although the Blue Moon Brewing Co. is a small brewery located inside Coors Field in Denver, the beer sold in stores is actually produced in the same facilities that turn out swill like Coors and Miller Light.
Blue Moon has a hint of citrus flavor that makes it marginally better than most industrial beer, but it is still generic and boring. Beer lovers drink craft beer not only because it usually tastes better but also because they want to support small, local businesses that care about something other than profit. A similar issue arises when chain restaurants and wine conglomerates pass their subsidiaries off as artisanal operations.
This attempt to exploit the growing preference for local products puts genuine artisanal food, wine, and beer operations at a significant disadvantage and the intent is clearly to deceive. MillerCoors is taking advantage of the premium that beer lovers are willing to spend for real craft beer, without delivering on the promise.
Unfortunately, there is no legally binding definition of “craft” and the TTB has already signed off on the label. I will be surprised if this isn’t thrown out of court given the deference judges show to big business.
But the attempt is praiseworthy.